|Sophia Rosamund Praeger
|Born||17 April 1867
Holywood, County Down, Ireland
|Died||16 April 1954
Rock Cottage, County Down, Northern Ireland, UK
|Resting place||Priory Cemetery, Holywood|
|Alma mater||Belfast School of Art and the Slade School of Art|
Early life and education
Praeger was born in Holywood, County Down, Ireland on 17 April 1867. Her parents were Willem Emil Praeger and Marie Ferrar Patterson. Her father, immigrated to Belfast from Holland to work with his uncle in the family linen company, which was established in 1860. Praeger had five brothers, the eldest of whom was the naturalist Robert Lloyd Praeger. Praeger received her primary school education at the day school run by the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian minister, Rev Charles McElester. Praeger would later teach at this school. She attended Sullivan Upper School, the Belfast School of Art and the Slade School of Art in London. At the Belfast School of Art, Praeger studied under the painter George Trobridge, and became a member of the Rambler's Sketching Club in 1886. In 1888, she enrolled in the Slade School, studying under Alphonse Legros. Whilst there she became friends with fellow sculptor, Ellen Mary Rope. From 1892 to 1893, Praeger travelled to Paris to study, having been encouraged to do so by Legros and Rope.
Following her time in Paris, Praeger returned to Holywood and established a studio. Having rented a number of studios in Belfast, in 1914 she built St Brigid's Studio on Hibernia Street, which she worked from until her death. Praeger completed her first large commission in 1907, a memorial to T. Hamilton for Queen's University Belfast.
Praeger wrote and illustrated children's books, as well as providing botanical illustrations for her brother's work. However she is best known for her sculptures, working primarily in plaster but also marble, terracotta and stone. Her more well known pieces depict children in what is sometimes described as a sentimental style.
Her sculptures include:
- "The Philosopher" (which was shown at the Royal Academy) is now in Colorado Springs, Colorado
- "Johnny The Jig" is in Holywood (between the maypole and the Priory)
- "Fionnuala the Daughter of Lir" is at the Causeway School, near Bushmills (1911–17)
- Founders of Riddell Hall, Queen's University (1926)
- Lord Edward Carson Memorial, Belfast Cathedral (1938)
She also modelled figures for such diverse bodies as the Northern Bank, the Carnegie Library on the Falls Road (Belfast) and at St Anne's Church of Ireland Cathedral (Belfast). She was President of the then Ulster Academy (became the Royal Ulster Academy later).
Awards and legacy
She became an Honorary Academician of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1927, received an honorary MA from Queen's University in 1938, and in 1939 was awarded the MBE. She died at Rock Cottage on 16 April 1954, and was buried in the Priory Cemetery. Praeger's work in included in the collections of the Ulster Museum and the National Gallery of Ireland, and some private collections around the world.
- "Praeger, Sophia Rosamond". National Irish Visual Arts Library. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
- Gaynor, Catherine (2000). "An Ulster Sculptor Sophia Rosamund Praeger" (PDF). Irish Arts Review: 34–43. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
- Newmann, Kate. "Sophia Rosamond Praeger (1867–1954): Sculptor". Dictionary of Ulster Biography. Ulster History Circle. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
- "Sophia Rosamond Praeger HRHA". Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851–1951. University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
- "Rosamond Praeger". Culture Northern Ireland. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
- McBrinn, Joseph (2009) 'A Populous Solitude': the life and art of Sophia Rosamond Praeger, 1867–1954, Women's History Review, Vol. 18, Iss. 4